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Journey to the End of the World

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by warpus, Feb 19, 2015.

  1. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    One day in early 2008, my friend - let’s call her Jane, asked me if I want to go hiking in Chile with her. This was an unexpected proposition for me, possessing neither the clothing, the gear, nor the training for a proposed 5 day long hike through the Andes in southern Patagonia - the highlight of a 3 week long trip.

    Jane, you see, had read an article in a travel magazine about Patagonia many years ago that inspired her to want to go there one day. And with 3 weeks of vacation time accrued and a “big” vacation possibility on the horizon, I guess she decided that 2008 was it. All she needed was a hiking sidekick, capable of protecting her from danger, offering humorous commentary along the way, and a second set of eyes and ears during an unfamiliar experience.

    Me? I had been living with my parents for a year - in an attempt to save up enough money for a downpayment on my first home. This worked out well: I had a bit of downpayment fund money left over. I also had about 3 weeks of vacation time saved up at work.. and my parents are cool, but.. you know, after a while you just need to get away again.. And hiking wasn’t really my thing, nor was travel to far away places, but.. The stars seemed aligned for some adventure. Screw it, might as well go hiking in Chile with Jane. How often do you have a chance to do something random like that? And what’s the worst that could happen?

    The Patagonia trip was on. The trip that started it all.

    The journey to the end of the world.



    The above isn't a map of a part of Chile at all, as some of you might have noticed. This will all be explained later, as I post pictures from the trip in a chronological fashion, in a similar format as before.

    Feel free to chime in with questions and/or comments about anything posted. I will do my best to post pictures often and get through them as quickly as possible.. and there are far less pictures from this particular trip and less stories (it was 7 years ago, I remember less, had a worse camera, wasn't as experienced with picturetaking, etc.), but I am going to be going through pictures, videos, and notes one by one, so some of it may take some time, especially if I get tied up with other things in life.

    Either way though I hope you enjoy the thread! Thanks for reading.
     
  2. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Index

    Day 1 - Toronto - New York - Santiago, Chile
    Day 2 - First day in Santiago
    Day 3 - Second day in Santiago
    Day 4 - Valparaíso | 2
    Day 5 - Last day in Santiago
    Day 6 - Flight to Punta Arenas
    (Birth)Day 7 - Penguin colony | 2 | Cemetery
    Day 8 - Arrival in Torres del Paine National Park
    Day 9 - Hike to Torres del Paine lookout point 2 | 3
    Day 10 - W-circuit Day 3 | 2 | 3 | 4
    Day 11 - W-circuit Day 4 | 2
    Day 12 - W-circuit Day 5 - Hike to Glaciar Grey | 2 | Lookout point
    Day 13 - Glaciar Grey scenic cruise | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5
    Day 14 - Back in Puerto Natales | Mural | Return to Punta Arenas
    Day 15 - Laundry day in Punta Arenas
    Day 16 - Bus ride to Ushuaia
    Day 17 - Ushuaia | Scenic cruise | Penguins! | Martial glacier
    Day 18 - Tierra del Fuego National Park | 2 | 3
    Day 19 - Last day in Tierra del Fuego National Park
    Day 20 - Journey back home - Bus ride to Punta Arenas
    Day 21 - Flying..
    Day 22 - Lots of flying
     
  3. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    First impressions of Santiago

    After delays in New York and a 12 hour long overnight flight, we were in Santiago, Chile. The highlight of the flight was definitely tetris.

    Here's some pictures from our first 2 days in the city. The plan was to stick around for 4 days, then fly south to the Chilean part of Patagonia.



    Adventure greeted us on the end of day 1 in the form of bedbugs. It was late at night when we discovered them.. We had no choice but to try to locate the lone person who worked at the hostel and was likely now sleeping, so that we could get a new room. But the first door Jane knocked on did not lead to anyone who could help us with our problem, but rather a confused and in many ways naked German man.

    The new room we eventually ended up in had a private bathroom.. just like our old room did. But instead of a door this one had a flimsy and not very cover-worthy piece of plastic or fabric.

    "I didn't sign up for this", I said to my travel companion through the opening. It was noted.

    On our second day in Santiago we climbed a hill in the heart of the citythat used to be some sort of a pueblo. It gave us pretty nice views of the city and the surrounding mountains.







    Eyecatching architecture somewhere in central Santiago:



     
  4. Timsup2nothin

    Timsup2nothin Another drone in the hive mind

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    I am eagerly awaiting the part where you are lying alongside a high altitude trail gasping like a fish. My local peaks top out just over ten thousand feet, and I felt like I should have a space suit...and I'm just a day hiker that doesn't have to carry any gear.

    I admire your cavalier daring! :goodjob: But only because I have clear evidence you survived, at the time I would have thought you were inviting a disaster.
     
  5. Borachio

    Borachio Way past lunacy

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    Just how many ways are there of being naked?

    Coyly? Boldly? Satirically?

    I'm rather confused myself.
     
  6. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Thanks! The main trail we walked on this trip actually isn't at a very high altitude. Check out this elevation map:



    It's not the exact route we walked, but it's close enough. We walked this from east to west (66-70km or so), and while high altitude hiking considerations do not apply since it's so close to sea level, there is a lot of uphill and downhill hiking, and we found the day trip to the Towers Lookout point exhausting. It was definitely not an easy hike overall given my experience and expectations.

    I actually didn't see this person at all, I was standing off to the side. Jane was the only one (un)fortunate enough to get a full view into that dark room. From her description of events I can ascertain that there was nudity, but to which extent I did not care to find out. :p So - best leave that a bit vague and uncertain.
     
  7. Borachio

    Borachio Way past lunacy

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    Ah. Darkly and second-handedly naked, it is.

    Thanks.

    It's a peculiar feature of Germans, though. They do tend to get naked in some unlikely situations. I have heard.
     
  8. Timsup2nothin

    Timsup2nothin Another drone in the hive mind

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    WOW!

    My entire concept of "hiking in the Andes" has taken a severe jolt.

    I now recognize that there were some pretty wild suppositions at work in my little pea brain there. There was no reason to think you were going to go peak bagging madly on the main ridge, or anything of the kind, but somehow I jumped right to that.

    Still, 48 miles with that much elevation changes in five days is an admirable effort. I will eagerly await that part while enjoying the cityscapes and other adventures!
     
  9. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Thanks! It wasn't easy, but I'd recommend this particular trail to just about anyone. I saw older people while walking, much younger people, and while not all of them were walking the exact route we were, if you're in decent shape, it shouldn't really be a problem. It's not easy but it isn't extremely difficult either. The 48 miles btw is a figure that includes a part we didn't do - exploration of the French valley.. You can probably shave 5-7 miles off that 48 mile figure - we only sort of had lunch near the entrance of the valley and then moved on without hiking up it.

    I've had a bit of an emergency here today - A frozen pipe burst and now my basement is all wet.. and the insurance people are.. well, hopefully they're getting back to me soon, so we can start figuring all this out. So unfortunately I'm not sure when I'm going to be able to post the next update as I'm a bit distracted...
     
  10. Timsup2nothin

    Timsup2nothin Another drone in the hive mind

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    Hey! An indoor pool! Party time!

    Errrr...

    Okay, I try to live my life with enthusiasm, which can sometimes be excessive.

    Good luck there Warpus. My pool is outdoors, and currently cold and green, but the sun is shining and there's comfy chairs so if you need a getaway there's a cold beer with your name on it.
     
  11. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Santiago

    We spent 3 days in Santiago total. Unfortunately half a million public workers in the country were striking at this time, and so both the zoo and a museum we wanted to see were closed.. as well as a whole bunch of other things. Here you can read about the resolution of this strike - 10 days later.

    There was plenty to do in Santiago either way. We spent a lot of time just walking around looking at stuff.







    I believe this picture might be from Barrio Bellavista - which we walked to because it's supposed to be a "hip" part of town with good restaurants, stores, art galleries, etc. The only thing I really remember about it is that we had to walk through a supposedly dangerous part of town to get to it..



    Mapocho River flows through the middle of the city. It is incredibly dirty.



    We did a bike tour of the city one day, which took us through some interesting parts of town, some of which had been recently invested in as part of city rejuvenation efforts. A long part of the ride took us through a long narrow park which was bound by busy streets on two sides - with a bike path or two down the middle.



    The bike tour finished in a fancy bar, where we drank fancy drinks and ate fancy appetizers. This lead to more drinks with our tour guide and an invitation to a BBQ - a goodbye party for his friend - she was leaving Chile for (if I remember correctly) Japan.

    We stopped at a beer store, went to the party, met a bunch of people, got drunk, had a lot of fun, said goodbye to the friend, and.. well, said goodbye to everybody else, to the tour guide, finished with "the complete tour", got in a cab, and made it home. To the hostel at least, the one we switched to on day 2 due to the bedbugs in the original hostel.

    In other happenings around Santiago, I could not have not taken a picture of this man.



    Picture of me on top of that Pueblo.



    Chileans love their hot dogs. It's pretty much the national dish.



    The toppings can be slightly elaborate. Mayos of varying flavours and colours were usually present. Other common toppings seemed to be tomato, avocado, mustard, aji sauce, cheese, other sauces and vegetables, sauerkraut.. pretty much anything you can think of I guess, even egg - but what I've listed before egg seem to be the favoured options.
     
  12. Timsup2nothin

    Timsup2nothin Another drone in the hive mind

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    I would be sorely disappointed if I found out that you let a saw playing clown pass unremarked. You have come through once again!
     
  13. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Valparaíso

    On the 3rd day in the country we went on a day trip to Valparaiso, about 120km to the west of Santiago. Before the opening of the Panama canal Valparaiso was an important port city. Here, I'll let wikipedia fill you in on the details:

    Valparaíso played a very important geopolitical role in the second half of the 19th century, when the city served as a major stopover for ships traveling between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans by crossing the Straits of Magellan. Always a magnet for European immigrants, Valparaíso mushroomed during its golden age, when the city was known by international sailors as "Little San Francisco" and "The Jewel of the Pacific". In 2003, the historic quarter of Valparaíso was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a new national law named the city "Chile's Cultural Capital." Valparaíso is the capital of Chile's third most populated administrative region and has been the headquarters for the Chilean National Congress since 1990.

    When we got off the bus from Santiago and turned down the first street this is what we saw:



    We knew that public workers were on strike, but didn't expect to run into anything like this..





    No matter, we managed to walk around a bit with no problems..



    We booked a tour that would take us to key parts in the city.. One of the first stops was Pablo Neruda's house. Neruda was a nobel-winning Chilean poet and diplomat. He had a sweet house on the side of one of the many steep hills that make up the city. Here's a view from one of the balconies:



    All these pictures from Valparaiso were taken by Jane by the way, my camera must have been out of service that day for some reason. I am pretty impressed with her photography skills to be honest, now that I'm actually going through this stuff picture by picture.. For some of the more picturesque parts of the trip I might as well see what sort of pictures she took and post some of those too - chances are they are going to be at least decent and likely better than mine. :p

    Pictures weren't allowed inside Neruda's house, but I am not surprised that he found it inspirational. It would have been amazing place to live. It was only one of three houses he owned, mind you, but all the weird stuff he had inside and the very nice views from the balcony must have made it easier to get in a creative mood. I can't really tell you what I mean by "weird stuff" by the way, I can't really remember.. other that I seem to remember some sort of a statue of a cow maybe? It's a very vague memory, it could have been another animal. Let's just say it was a very unique house with very unique things inside.

    The city has several "elevators" that connect especially steep parts of the city.



    From this view you can see the city of Viña del Mar, which we were headed to next - to see a clock and some other things.

     
  14. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Valparaíso 2

    Some more pictures from this very interesting city.



    Contrast





    One of the last stops of the tour was at a museum. According to my notes the museum had shrunken heads, a two headed goat, and a condor. Now, I definitely remember the condor and the the shrunken heads..



    but the two headed goat I definitely do not remember at all.

    Another cool thing there: A head from Easter island right outside



    I will also state this fact: There were several urologists from the UK and Australia on the tour with us. They were in the city for a urological congress. I have nothing else to say about it, but I want it to be in the record that it happened.

    At the end of the tour we found ourselves.. somewhere further away.

     
  15. Timsup2nothin

    Timsup2nothin Another drone in the hive mind

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    Wow. Those people really know how to throw a strike! They all looked to be having a very good time of it as well.
     
  16. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Some more Santiago

    As the bike tour of Santiago actually happened a day after the day trip to Valparaiso, I will post the best pictures from that bike tour from Jane's collection. I didn't have any pictures for that particular day either. I'm not sure what to make of that to be honest - I don't remember my camera being out of commission for 2 days, but it must have been.

    It was explained to us by our guide Glenn that the city was going through a rejuvenation process and that this was one of the results:



    Here is a slightly blurry picture of him explaining something to me.



    And here's a picture from the BBQ we ended up at as part of the "complete tour"



    To be honest I don't think I've been at better BBQ going away party since (or maybe even ever). It was a blast and a great way to cap off our stay in Santiago.

    Our flight to Punta Arenas, Patagonia was in the morning.
     
  17. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Their efforts were ultimately successful, but yeah.. it did seem like a bit of a spectacle. Very unexpected thing to run into.
     
  18. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Punta Arenas

    Punta Arenas is the capital of Chile's southernmost region - Magallanes and Antartica Chilena. It's pretty much the city you have to fly to if you want to go hiking in Torres del Paine National Park, which is where we were headed.



    A couple points of interest can be found on the map below:

    Punta Arenas - Our base of operations
    Parque Nacional Torres del Paine - The reason for the trip (north-west of P.A.)
    Puerto Natales - Park access point
    Ushuaia - Where we ended up at the end of the trip (south-east of P.A.)



    The city of Punta Arenas has a population of about 127,000 and doesn't really have much to offer other than making for a good HQ if you're exploring the region. Here are a couple pictures of our first impressions of the place:



    I think the following picture was taken at Punta Arenas' Plaza de Armas



    Walking through the city, you do indeed get the sense that you're in a remote and desolate place.. which makes sense because you are, but it left an impression on me nevertheless..





     
  19. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Penguin Colony

    Southern Patagonia is home to the Magellanic Penguin. We definitely wanted to see some, so we booked a day trip and took a van out to a penguin colony.

    I found the landscape along the way sort of intriguing..





    These are rheas, relatives of the ostrich and emu:









    The first penguin sighting..

     
  20. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

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    Nice stuff. :)
     

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